You may have seen her breathtaking Star Wars shadow artwork, or the ubiquitous ‘Teh Tarik Man’ brought to life by layering 20,000 stained tea bags, or basketball dribble artwork of NBA star Yao Ming. Malaysian-born Red Hong Yi is a mixed media artist that gained international fame for creating artwork using unconventional ways and has been featured by media around the world including Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CNN, NBC and the Daily Mail.
Who is Red Hong Yi?
Hong Yi grew up in Sabah on the beautiful tropical island of Borneo. One of her best friends gave her the nickname ‘Red’, because her surname sounds like the word ‘red’ in Chinese.
After graduating with a Masters of Architecture from the University of Melbourne, she took up an offer to work for Australian architecture firm HASSELL in their Shanghai office, and was completely taken with the city, with its special structures and tensions, its unique history and culture. This inspired Hong Yi to start on creating art using local everyday materials she found in China as her medium. It was an outlet for her to express how much she felt for a place her grandparents once fled from. Hong Yi documents these projects and shares it on her social media platforms.
Known as the artist who ‘loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush’, and has worked with clients such as Hewlett Packard, Unilever, Nespresso, Esquire and Astro was invited as a presenter at the 6th and 7th EG Conference in Monterey, California, and lectured in design universities Domus Academy and NABA in Milan, and traveled to USA, Italy, Germany, China, Malaysia, Australia and Hong Kong to present her work. Hong Yi was named Esquire magazine’s 12 Brilliant Malaysians and given Perspective Global’s 40 Under 40 Designers award. She currently lives and works between Shanghai and Malaysia.
The Red Work
Red Hong Yi is inspired by daily objects in life to create stunning portratis and believes in creating art beyond the confines of a paintbrush. She is inspired by patterns in nature, and by everyday objects and materials that we are all familiar with. The artist wants to challenge herself to not take these objects for granted, but to see potential in creating art using these objects. She likes to use materials that have a connection with the person or subject that she is ‘painting.’ Hong Yi starts off by doing a lot of research on a person she wants to paint, or get inspired by an object, and think about who she can associate the object with.
Here are some visual feast of Red Hong Yi’s awe inspiring artwork:
Picture above: Goldfish made of pickled ginger, eyeballs made of century eggs, grass made of dill and jelly made of chicken consommé and gelatine
Picture above: Fiery Red Firecracker Lipstick
Picture above: Tiny Village and Red Hot Sun painted with nail polish
Picture above: ‘Campbell’s Tomato Soup!’ made of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and oyster sauce
Her advice to achieve something in life is ‘If you want something you’ve never had, do something you’ve never done’. It was this quote that drove her to start on her portraits with unusual materials. Hong Yi’s humble nature yet mesmerising art pieces have placed Malaysia on the world map and gives us Malaysians another reason to beam with pride.
Never lose your sense of wonder.
— Red Hong Yi
Check out more of Red Hong Yi’s masterpieces below: